I have been hearing a lot lately from people that there is going to be a calling out to all the members of the church to go live in tent cities. They believe that this is going to happen really soon. Have you heard anything on this?
Yes, I am familiar with this concept. The basic idea is that at some point those who are prepared (a year supply of food) and willing, will be invited, by the prophet, to go to “places of refuge”/tent city, where they will be preserved from worst of the calamities to come before the Second Coming. These calamities might be anarchy and roving gangs caused by war and/or natural disasters. Some have come to believe in the idea of ‘tent cities’ because of dreams they have had personally, or because of listening to the dreams, or near-death experiences of others.
Though the idea may seem strange, it is not without precedent. In the scriptures and in church history, the Lord has drawn out the righteous before destroying the wicked. Consider Lot leaving Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah building an ark, Lehi and his family fleeing Jerusalem, Nephi taking his family and supporters and leaving Laman, Lemuel and their supporters. When the early pioneers of our dispensation were driven out of the United States to the Utah territory, it seems like a tragedy, but they were spared the horror of the Civil War.
One of the lesser known stories of separation is the story of Pella. When Judea and Jerusalem were destroyed in A.D. 70, more than 1,100,000 Jews were killed and approximately 100,000 were taken captive. But the Christians in Jerusalem escaped and were spared.
Adam Clark, quoted by George Horton Jr in an Ensign article, Be Ye Also Ready said,
“It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though there were many there when Cestius Gallus invested the city; and, had he persevered in the siege, he would soon have rendered himself master of it; but, when he unexpectedly and unaccountably raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape. …”
They knew, because Christ had prophesied of this time. They heeded His warning and fled when they saw the signs he had warned them of.
So should we be preparing for tent cities, and are they imminent? We are blessed to be led by a modern-day prophet and other inspired leaders. We need to follow them. They have not mentioned tent cities, but they have counseled us to prepare for adversity by having a supply of food and water, and money in savings. We have been counseled:
“We encourage members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise, and do not go to extremes. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” Food Storage
Notice we have been told to prepare, but also counseled “do not go to extremes”. We should prepare for the future by following both parts of this counsel.
As to the question of ‘when’, we do not know for sure. We can see the signs of the Second Coming being fulfilled all around us, but we don’t know the exact day, or even year. The best thing we can do is read the scriptures, follow the Prophet, and listen to the Spirit. That is good advice not only for the future, but for living each day.